Cayucos Historical Society

The Cayucos Historical Society was established to promote and preserve an understanding and appreciation of the historical and cultural heritage of Cayucos and its surrounding areas

Camp Roberts Historical Museum

Previous to any settlements, the Cayucos vicinity had many ranches run by such notable families as: Tognazzini, Donati, Righetti, Muscio, and others.

Circa 1855, John Bains founded the first settlement in the Cayucos area, the community of Old Creek. This was situated at the intersection of the “San Luis Obispo – San Simeon” Road and the Old Creek Road to Paso Robles. The community included a general merchandise store, a saloon, a dining establishment, and overnight accommodations for travelers, as it also served as a stage stop. This settlement served the needs of both ranchers and travelers.

In 1867, James Cass moved into the area and briefly tried his hand at farming. It is legend that when Cass was carrying a shipment from San Luis Obispo to San Simeon he stopped at Cayucos Creek and surveying the area, he recognized the potential of a shipping port. His experience as a pilot on the Sacramento River, aided in his evaluation.

In 1869 he convinced Captain J.M. Ingalls to use his landing. Cass used high-ended surfboats to row the cargo out to the schooner. By the end of 1869, he had sent two shipments of 250 tons each at a charge of $5.50 per ton.  Cass would stack incoming freight on piles of straw on the beach and sleep there to protect it. Incoming shipments were mainly lumber and manufactured goods, while those outgoing were mostly dairy products, produce and livestock.

The shipping business prospered. In the spring of 1873, Cass built a 380 feet wharf. In 1875 the wharf was replaced with a 940 feet pier, which allowed ships to dock beside it. In 1876, a large warehouse was built at the end of the pier. This original settlement was called Cayucos Landing at Old Creek California.

Cayucos officially became a town in September of 1875 when William F. Babcock recorded the subdivision map. In that same year Cass built his residence and warehouse, The Cosmopolitan Hotel was also constructed as well as a general merchandise store.  Old Creek still existed, but on Jan. 8, 1879, that post office closed and a new one was opened at the Cass store in Cayucos.

Cayucos continued to grow so that by the turn of the century, the community had two churches, a school, 4 banks, 7 saloons, 5 hotels and a thriving support industry of blacksmiths, general merchandise stores, and other businesses.

James Cass died on March 15, 1917 at the age of 93. This event seemed to be the omen for a change in Cayucos. With the development of the coast highway and train service throughout California, the shipping industry in Cayucos was declining. By 1923, Cass’ warehouse and the beachfront properties were sold to a development company with tourism in mind. Even in those days Cayucos was becoming a tourist destination. This direction for Cayucos was aided by the State of California in 1940. It purchased the Warehouse and beachfront creating a community hall and public beach.

Swiss – Italian and Portuguese communities expanded as the dairy industry continued and the town grew.

Cayucos continues to be a wonderful community for both residents and tourists.

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